Decreasing Social Isolation in Adults via a Cognitive Wellness Program
Civic and Community Engagement
Community Health and Preventive Medicine
Mental and Social Health
Translational Medical Research
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AbstractIn October 2015, Buzzards Bay Speech Therapy and Coastline Elderly Services, Inc, collaborated to address concerns regarding healthy aging in New Bedford. According to the 2014 Massachusetts Healthy Aging Data Report, New Bedford scored lowest in the state with regard to healthy aging, with 31 health indicators worse than the state average, including depression, mental illness, stroke and Alzheimer's disease. Recognizing that these indicators can lead to social isolation and further exacerbate health concerns, we developed a program focusing on cognitive wellness in order to enhance social engagement. The goal of the program is to provide evidenced based interventions to adults in order to improve social connectedness, sense of well-being, and communicative effectiveness in order to decrease social isolation, depressive symptoms and caregiver burden. The program uses class-based instruction and lively activities to educate and engage participants while practicing tips and techniques to improve thinking, memory, communication and socialization skills. Quantitative and qualitative outcome data collected from 2015-present reveals that classes are effective at decreasing social isolation, encouraging the formation/renewal of friendships and the trying of new things, and improving confidence in communication skills. Additionally, data reflects that the factor most susceptible to change following participation in our classes is a feeling of optimism, born out of camaraderie within the class, gains in self-confidence and self-acceptance, and motivation to improve. Currently we are initiating Participatory Action to enhance community engagement, expand programming, and identify resources that may be available/created in order to improve cognitive wellness and decrease social isolation.
Permanent Link to this Itemhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.14038/26737
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Physiological and Social Stress on Cognitive PerformanceNagatti, Doreet; Anina, Daniele; Daigle, Maria; O'Brien, Kymberlee M. (2016-05-20)Humans are highly social creatures and this provides us with a number of benefits, such as protection and support, but it also brings new avenues for stress from social sources. Basic and translational neuroendocrine research has yielded a rich set of findings and a general understanding of how acute and chronic stress can result in reduced health, earlier aging, and earlier death. Although stress can be indexed by level of cortisol, the major stress hormone in humans, many interrelated physiological systems are involved in a stress response, including the cardio and vascular systems. Research toward greater understanding of stress buffering mechanisms holds value for improved human health in the face of entrenched social stressors. In particular, acute and chronic stress have consistently been found to impair cognitive performance, Many adults in high stress environments also face a changing social landscape during college years: changes in living partners, less control over noise, sleep, exercise, and nutrition. In this pilot investigation, we are interested in measuring the influences of acute stress on cognitive performance and whether social support, a factor that is modifiable, would be protective on the multi-systems relationships between stress and cognition. Broadly, we found (1) that higher levels of cortisol measured in saliva was associated with a faster return to resting levels of salivary cortisol (a measure of flexible, adaptive functioning of the central HPA stress system) after the stressor is removed and may also be associated with lower cortisol in the initial response to the stressor. In parallel, we found (2) that higher levels of cortisol were associated with impaired cognitive performance after the stress task, (3) finally, we found that those reporting high social support showed faster recovery to baseline in the cardiovascular systems and greater social support produced some buffering of stress response on their post-stress cognitive performance.
Relation of childhood socioeconomic status and family environment to adult metabolic functioning in the CARDIA studyLehman, Barbara J.; Taylor, Shelley E.; Kiefe, Catarina I.; Seeman, Teresa E. (2005-11-30)OBJECTIVE: Low SES and a conflict-ridden, neglectful, or harsh family environment in childhood have been linked to a high rate of physical health disorders in adulthood. The objective of the present investigation was to evaluate a model of the pathways that may help to explain these links and to relate them to metabolic functioning (MF) in the Coronary Artery Risk Development In Young Adults (CARDIA) dataset. METHODS: Participants (n = 3225) in the year 15 assessment of CARDIA, age 33 to 45 years, completed measures of childhood socioeconomic status (SES), risky early family environment (RF), adult psychosocial functioning (PsyF, a latent factor measured by depression, hostility, positive and negative social contacts), and adult SES. Indicators of the latent factor MF were assessed, specifically, cholesterol, insulin, glucose, triglycerides, and waist circumference. RESULTS: The overall prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 9.7%. Structural equation modeling indicated that childhood SES and RF are associated with MF via their association with PsyF (standardized path coefficients: childhood SES to RF -0.13, RF to PsyF 0.44, PsyF to MF 0.09, all p < .05), but also directly (coefficient from childhood SES to MF -0.12, p < .05), with good overall model fit. When this model was tested separately for race-sex subgroups, it fit best for white women, fit well for African-American women and white men, but did not fit well for African-American men. CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that childhood SES and early family environment contribute to metabolic functioning through pathways of depression, hostility, and poor quality of social contacts.
Relationship Between Theory of Mind, Emotion Recognition, and Social Synchrony in Adolescents With and Without AutismFitzpatrick, Paula; Frazier, Jean A.; Cochran, David E.; Mitchell, Teresa V.; Coleman, Caitlin; Schmidt, R. C. (2018-07-31)Difficulty in social communication and interaction is a primary diagnostic feature of ASD. Research has found that adolescents with ASD display various impairments in social behavior such as theory of mind (ToM), emotion recognition, and social synchrony. However, not much is known about the relationships among these dimensions of social behavior. Adolescents with and without ASD participated in the study. ToM ability was measured by viewing social animations of geometric shapes, recognition of facial emotions was measured by viewing pictures of faces, and synchrony ability was measured with a spontaneously arising interpersonal movement task completed with a caregiver and an intentional interpersonal task. Attention and social responsiveness were measured using parent reports. We then examined the relationship between ToM, emotion recognition, clinical measures of attention and social responsiveness, and social synchronization that arises either spontaneously or intentionally. Results indicate that spontaneous synchrony was related to ToM and intentional synchrony was related to clinical measures of attention and social responsiveness. Facial emotion recognition was not related to either ToM or social synchrony. Our findings highlight the importance of biological motion perception and production and attention for more fully understanding the social behavior characteristic of ASD. The findings suggest that the processes underlying difficulties in spontaneous synchrony in ASD are different than the processes underlying difficulties in intentional synchronization.